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I’m about as optimistic a person as they come, but tonight’s loss against a struggling Penguins team just hammers home the message that there simply isn’t enough skill on this roster. It was a pretty bland effort overall as they couldn’t capitalize on key scoring chances and made a few mental mistakes that resulted in the back of their net.
After recovering from the initial shock of the Leafs trading yet another highly rated, potentially top end prospect (Tlusty in this case) for picks, prospects (Paradis in this case) or players who at best can be defined as “depth” acquisitions, I decided to sit back, absorb all of the feedback and coverage from this transaction and form an opinion based on rational thought processes and any available factual information.Â Past my initial, oh no, here we go again feeling, I was uncertain as to my actual opinion on this deal.Â After all, I have never seen the young Paradis play, knew very little about this prospect, and the only information I had available was that he was a late 1st round pick in last years entry draft.Â So, I decided to err on the side of caution and keep my initial opinion on this transaction to myself.Â After researching this prospect, reading the various scouting reports and watching some film, it became rather apparent that Mr Burke had traded a potential top 6 type of sniper for a 3rd-4th line character guy.Â Someone who was physical, had speed, was fearless and could become a real heart and soul leader on an NHL roster one day.Â Considering the intangibles this player could potentially bring down the road, I was willing to overlook the obvious imaginary offensive upside Mr Burke was touting with this prospect and the projections of a top 6 “power forward” type in the NHL and was settling in with a comfortable neutral, “Wait and See” decision on this transaction.
PART 1 â€“ GETTING THE JOB DONE
It is the middle of training camp and the team on the ice has not been looking so decent. Brian Burke has been asked to choose between President and GM of the team in order for the club to find a better fit in the front office for a change. Heâ€™s selected President and you have been hired to take over the general manager duties. Congratulations. The team has decided to throw a staff party in welcoming you to the club.
An article in the London Free Press explains that the reasons for the earlier 7pm ET start times for home games this season: to cater to a younger audience and to allow for more efficient getaways in the case of a road game the following night. A slew of other small headlines including contract details for Komisarek, the Grabovski-Kostitsyn feud, and Justin Pogge.
It was something that immediately popped into my head when it was announced that the Ponikarovsky to Nashville rumors were untrue and Antropov was dealt to the Rangers minutes later â€“ did Antropov do for the Leafs what Sundin never would? The Leafs were only looking at a pick for Moore and a 4th rounder they purchased from the Lightning. The deadline was looming over their heads and off went Antropov and the remainder of his one year deal.
I’ve been trading a few emails of late with some “non-sources” (I want to be very clear about that) employed by various media outlets in the Toronto area, to get their take on the rapidly-churning Maple Leafs’ rumour mill.
Although these folks are obviously not directly tied to anyone you would call a “source” affiliated with a team, their insight is often valuable as they are privy to more of the backroom chatter with those who are connected to the so-called “sources”.
Phew. Finally a chance to catch our breath after what was perhaps the best 2nd round of playoff hockey ever played. We were treated to three 7 game series, 9 overtime periods, and an epic showdown between the league’s premier young rivals, Crosby and Ovechkin. Perhaps overshadowed by all the intensity and exciting finishes, is a fairly simple underlying theme: Youth.
Mats Sundin’s season with the Vancouver Canucks, his chase for the 2009 Stanley Cup that brought him out of pseudo-retirement, and possibly his NHL career, ended tonight with the Canucks’ elimination from the playoffs at the hands of the young Chicago Blackhawks.
And now the “future of Sundin” questions, and subsequent “will-he-or-won’t-he” Favrian (or is it Favresque?) soap opera will surely begin anew.
San Jose Sharks (1) vs Anaheim Ducks (8)
Preseason odds: Sharks 10/1 Ducks 12/1
Last 10: Sharks 5-4-1, Ducks 7-2-1
Season Series: Sharks win 4-2-0
For a full team-by-team breakdown of all playoffs clubs, sure bets and sleeper picks for your playoff pools, visit the McKeen’s Playoff Preview where the factors below have been outlined and pointed out in a team-by-team write up.
On a night where we can say the “Sundin Saga” came to its exciting and fitting end, the Leafs played a second straight game where they showed the hard work and energy that was so characteristic of their early-season stretch of hockey. Upon the shootout conclusion of this game, I received three different messages all musing over the same thing: “Whoever scripted this game did it perfectly.”Â In the steady, reliable fashion that Leaf fans became accustomed to over thirteen years of service, Mats Sundin skated down the ice and with apparent effortlessness netted the shootout winner for his team.Â Except this time, he was doing it for the Vancouver Canucks.
Hereâ€™s a look back at all the exciting events that happened in tonightâ€™s game:
Now on to the post-game reaction.
Most recent Leafs trade talk in the mainstream media centers largely around Pavel Kubina and Tomas Kaberle. Just about enough has been mentioned on those fronts; Brian Burke will not compromise in his return demands for either of his coveted blue-liners and it appears that only time will tell. Here are three other interesting to trade or not to trade scenarios:
There are a ton of rumors flying around on the Toronto Maple Leafs. Some a downright ridiculous and some may very well have merit. This is a close outlook on a few of those rumors and speculation. Weâ€™re under 2 months away from Hockey Christmas, where all the wonderful surprises of wanted and undesired gifts are passed around. A shopping list is what we all hope the Leafs are after, but sometimes thereâ€™s other plans that could be in place which may not seem so attractive at first. Consider that the following is merely speculation and rumors.
So the Maple Leafs extend their tank-friendly stretch of non-success with a convincing 4-1 loss at the hands of the Philadelphia Flyers tonight, marking their seventh loss in their last nine games. As I snicker while watching Mats Sundin look equal parts lazy, fat and slow (yeah, he scored an empty net chance, so what), here are a few thoughts about tonight’s pedestrian performance from the Blue and White:
ESPN’s Pierre LeBrun is reporting that Brian Burke has been kicking the tires on a more adequate back-up for Vesa Toskala than Leafs’ current incumbent, the antiquated Curtis Joseph. What was initially tabbed as win-win move has proved to be a misstep engendered by nostalgia. The mandate wasn’t overly demanding for Joseph as the logic was that Vesa Toskala, coming off an impressive first year as a full-fledged starter, would only require relief for 15 games on the season. This hasn’t worked out for two reasons – Curtis Joseph has not proven adequate enough to play at a passable level for 15 games on the season (4.12 GAA, 0.843 SV%) and Toskala hasn’t by any stretch of the imagination been the unquestioned starter he was last season.
It’s hard to imagine that by the Christmas break, the offensively-challenged, Sundin-less forward corps of the Toronto Maple Leafs would be sitting at 7th overall in league scoring. They’re averaging a robust 3.10 goals for a game, which is a marked improvement over their 2.74 goals for average from last season. And what’s even more impressive is that key roles are being played by some of the Leafs younger players.
Ed. Note: Lots of holiday reading going up today for you guys. Merry Christmas.
Here we are the Christmas break, and Iâ€™d like to take the time to look back at what we saw in September, what we expected by Christmas and what we envision for the future of the Blue and White.
Former Maple Leafs captain, Mats Sundin may have inadvertently helped the Toronto Maple Leafs rebuilding effort. In signing with the Vancouver Canucks, Sundin may have already given Toronto the inside track at a piece Vancouver lacks to make them a contender in the West. That player presently wears blue and white. Tomas Kaberle.
Ron Wilson appears to have assembled a winning combination up front. After an 8-5 beating at the hands of the Boston Bruins, Wilson re-united the line of Nik Antropov, Matt Stajan and Alexei Ponikarovsky atop the roster, kept in tact the dynamic third line of Jason Blake, Dominic Moore and Jeremy Williams and it’s resulted in two dominating wins by a collective score of 13-5. For the first time since early October, the Leafs have surpassed the .500 mark at 14-13-6 after winning five of their last six.
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